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Zero scrutiny over thousands of high net worth foreign individuals in UK


Recent drop in approved investment visas highlights question marks over those granted during seven-year “blind faith” period

25th February 2016 – London – The UK must immediately carry out retrospective source of wealth checks on the nearly 3,000 individuals granted Tier 1 Investment Visas between 2008 and 2015. Research published by Transparency International UK (TI-UK) in October 2015 found a high likelihood that a substantial amount of corrupt money has been laundered through the UK using the Tier 1 investor scheme.

New regulations to provide greater scrutiny over Tier 1 visa applicants were implemented in April 2015. Until then the UK adopted a blind faith regime in which an investment of £2 million or above would buy UK residency with no questions asked.

The latest figures (released today) show a substantial drop in the number of visas granted after these checks were introduced, suggesting that greater scrutiny is working to deter corrupt money from flooding into the UK. However, this simply highlights the need to carry out retrospective checks of those granted visas during the 7-year blind faith period.

Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK said:

“The tightened rules are welcome, but this is a clear case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. That means checks should now be carried out as a matter of urgency on the 3,000 people who were granted visas over the 7-year ‘blind faith’ period, where it looked like the UK was selling residency to anyone, for the right price.”

“The Prime Minister has stated that the UK must not be a place to stash dirty cash and therefore must act now to deal with the billions of pounds of dirty money already on our shores.”

“Transparency International’s research found that 60% of all golden visas were awarded to citizens from Russia and China. Both countries have high corruption risks and have reported enormous outflows of illicit wealth in recent years. Tier 1 visas should be used to invest legitimate money in the UK economy, but instead there is a danger they have served as a loophole exploited to facilitate international corruption.”

Key stats from “Gold rush: Investment visas and corrupt capital flows into the UK”:

  • In 2014, the UK Government admitted 1,172 people through the scheme; in 2015, it only admitted 192
  • £3.15bn – minimum invested into UK using Tier 1 visa scheme (known as golden visas) since 2008.
  • 97% – of golden visas granted by UK during period of “blind-faith”.
  • 60% – of all approved golden visas awarded to Chinese and Russian nationals.
  • 0 – active investigations led by UK law enforcement authorities on money laundering proceeds of corruption stolen from Mainland China or Russia.


Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

Media Contact:

Dominic Kavakeb – Communications Manager


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Read 350 times Last modified on Thursday, 25 February 2016 10:29

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